A “Wow!” Update about The Methuselah Project

Dear friends,

Quite a few of you have finished reading The Methuselah Project and then declared, “This would make a great movie!” Thank you. Allow me also to thank the many who have practically demanded a sequel to find out what happens to Roger Greene and Katherine Mueller after The End.

The truth is, I’ve been working on a sequel. So what’s taking so long? I’ve also been working on a movie screenplay of the original Methuselah Project novel. However, I’d had very little experience with writing movie scripts. It’s a whole different art from penning novels, and it’s taken me quite a while to learn the in’s and out’s of the craft.

The Methuselah Project

Now, though, I’m excited to announce that this past autumn I submitted my screenplay to Movieguide’s annual Kairos Prize for beginning screenplay writers. As of last week, out of hundreds of submissions from 20+ countries, my script for The Methuselah Project made the final cut and is one of the 10 Finalists. On February 2 in Hollywood, one of us ten hopefuls will win the $15,000 prize. In addition, all of our scripts will be available for interested professionals in the film industry to review for consideration. I praise God for helping me to learn this new (to me) craft of writing, and for helping me to polish my project well enough to become a finalist. I’m sure the other submissions are excellent, and some of those writers have more experience with scripts than yours truly. Yet, whether I win or lose the Kairos, I feel God’s hand of blessing and sincerely thank Him for this level of achievement.

Along with some unfortunate realities of life that have claimed large chunks of this writer’s time, studying screenplay writing has definitely slowed momentum on the sequel to my third novel. Now, though, I plan to proceed “full steam ahead” with that sequel. Thanks for your patience, and thank you all for sharing my excitement as a Kairos Prize finalist. The odds are still 9 to 1 against me. However, 9 to 1 is lightyears better than the 100s to 1 odds that existed when I submitted my project. On February 2, I’ll be in Hollywood and holding my breath. We’ll see what happens!

Here’s a link for more information about the Kairos Prize and my competition:

Kairos Prize Finalists Have Been Announced!

 

 

Miracle of Miracles: The Screenplay of The Methuselah Project

As some of you friends and readers know, I’ve been studying the craft of screenplay writing. And even though novels and movies are both stories, and both depend on writers to create them, there is an enormous difference between novels and screenplays. So, learning the ins and outs of crafting a professional-looking script has been quite a learning curve for this novelist.

Now I can announce that–miracle of miracles!–the screenplay I created from The Methuselah Project actually made the semi-finalist list for Movieguide’s annual $15,000 Kairos Prize. I’m amazed, since there is tons of competition. In past Kairos competitions, 500+ scripts have competed for the winning spot. This is my third time to enter, but it’s the first time I’ve made the final 15. Even if I don’t win, being a semi-finalist is tremendously encouraging. If nothing else, Movieguide’s announcement gives me some confidence that I’m finally gaining a proper feel for screenplay-writing. Thank you to all of you who have sent me your congratulations for this milestone!

If you would like to see Movieguide’s announcement, here’s the link:

Semi-Finalists for the $15,000 Kairos Prizes Announced!

What’s distracting YOU?

Recently, a friend made this observation: “Procrastination is an evil temptress. Her goal is to destroy your dreams with her siren songs of “Someday,” “Gonna,” and “Later.” Your protector is the Warrior Princess Now, and her sword, ‘Immediate Action.'”

That metaphor started my mental gears turning. After considering her observation, it occurred to me that even people who don’t consider themselves procrastinators face an equally powerful temptress: Procrastination’s evil sister, Distraction. Make no mistake–although Distraction is evil, she is by no means ugly. To the contrary, Distraction is quite attractive, and she intuitively knows your hobbies, your personal pastimes, and all the little things you find interesting. Then, when you’re striding down the path toward your daily goals, Distraction steps into your path with a smile and says, “Want to see something cool?” Step by step, she guides you away from the path of ambitions and goals by dangling her bait in front of your eyes.

What bait does she use? Distraction adapts her lure according to each person. If you enjoy web surfing, Distraction smiles and reaches for your hand, for she commands a never-ending supply of links to hinder you from your goals. Why, Facebook alone can fritter away hours at a time as you catch up with others with humor, selfies, and personal news. For another person, Distraction offers sports. Or seemingly eternal TV news (or “news”) and commentaries. Interested in politics? Pull up a chair; you ain’t goin’ anywhere, bub! And so it goes until, much later, you surface from this sea of trivia realize, “Oh no! I was planning to accomplish some really good things today!”

In your heart, you tell yourself, “Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I’ll buckle down and do twice as much.” But Distraction smiles, then turns to her sister Procrastination and gives her yet another high-five!

“Send me a copy of your book.”

amailSince this hasn’t happened to me lately, I hope to address this topic without embarrassing anyone.

Recently I noticed a comment someone left on a writer-colleague’s Facebook page. Under a post my colleague left about the book she’s diligently writing, someone from her Friends list told her, “Send me a copy of your book” when it gets published.

Now, the commenter who made that (firm) request probably believed he was leaving a compliment: she was creating a story; he wanted the finished version. In reality, he was being rude and unthoughtful. Why? Because instructing a friend to mail you a freebie copy of a book (or anything else) is not appropriate.

Think about it. A writer sacrifices hours, weeks, months of his or her life to sit in front of a computer creating a story out of nothing. It’s a tough job. Sometimes the imagination runs dry. Sometimes the writer would rather be out with friends or even enjoying a movie. But a vision of the finished goal–a story so well crafted that readers will plunk down their hard-earned cash to buy a copy–keeps the writer motivated. Then, at last, the day comes when all the obstacles of writing, revising, editing are conquered and the dream becomes a reality… The book is born!

Then what happens? Most readers understand they must buy a copy if they want one. But occasionally someone blurts (or writes), “Send me a copy.” What this minority fails to understand is that authors don’t mystically receive printed and bound copies of their novels as boxed blessings that descend from the skies. No matter whether a book is produced via a traditional publishing house or independently by the author, even the author must pay something to receive copies of the finished project. Other than limited promo copies a publisher might provide, they’re certainly not free, not even to the author. So, instructing, “Send me your book” is about the same as saying, “I like you; buy me a gift that has cost  you both time and money so I can enjoy it for free.”

Do people who create jewelry for income have friends who say, “I like your work; send me a necklace”? Or does a new restaurant owner have people sit down and say, “I’m proud of your hard work in becoming a business owner. Give me a free meal”? I hope not.

Of course, most or all of the authors I know do sometimes give away gratis copies of their books. Sometimes they provide them to well-known individuals who might influence others to buy a copy. Other times they gift a copy to special friends or new acquaintances just for fun. Each time, the gift costs the givers. But these writers count the cost and enjoy the chance to give away an unexpected “part of themselves” for nothing in return.

So, on behalf of authors everywhere, please never say to one, “Send me your book,” unless you make clear you’re ordering a copy like anyone else. Expecting one for free isn’t a compliment; it’s an imposition.  Your compliment will be when you ask the author to sign it, or when you leave a glowing review online!

 

Promo Blitz! Ebook of The Methuselah Project just $0.99!

From now through Friday, January 20, the ebook of The Methuselah Project is available for only .99 cents! Already read it? Then please consider sharing the news with a reading friend who hasn’t.

Thank you, dear readers, for each mention, each share, and each tag you’ve made to reach an even wider audience. Blessings to you all!

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2iyZoyG

 

 

And in case some of you have heard about the book but still aren’t sure it’s right for you, let me share a quick screen capture of the latest reviews:

 

 

 

 

Stopping to Plagiarize on a Snowy Evening

eveningNo, as an author I truly don’t endorse the pilfering of another writer’s material. However, once the inspiration for the following poem sprouted in my mind, creativity took over. The idea practically begged me to write it, just for fun. This poem is a repeat, as I shared it on my blog one year ago. It’s one of the very few poems this author has attempted. So many people got a laugh that I’m rerunning it. Enjoy!

Stopping to Plagiarize on a Snowy Evening

By Rick Barry (with inspiration from Robert Frost)

Whose words these are I think I know.
His lawyer isn’t watching, though.
He will not see me scanning here
To steal his words, which nicely flow.

My little dog must think it queer
To filch these lines without fear,
To pinch the words and be a fake,
The darkest cunning of the year.

He gives his dog tags a loud shake
As if to warn, “A lot’s at stake!”
The only other sound’s the beep
My printer makes as lines I take.

These words are lovely, rich and deep,
But me? I have deadlines to keep,
And lines to type before I sleep,
And lines to type before I sleep.

 

 

Hurray, an Interruption!

interruptIn any group, ask for a show of hands: “Who here would like to be considered kind and helpful by others?” Chances are, a good number of hands will go up.

Now try another question: “Who here enjoys being interrupted when you’re busy doing something?” Probably fewer, if any, hands will rise. And understandably so. After all, when we’re pursuing a hobby, or studying for a class, or even writing a weekly blog post, we know how we planned to use our time and aren’t excited when someone disrupts our schedule.

But here’s something interesting to chew on: In the Bible, Jesus taught many truths, and He performed many miracles. Pay close attention to how many of His most memorable miracles resulted from someone interrupting while He was busy, either engaged in doing something or walking toward a goal. Here are a few:

Luke 5:17-19 – While Jesus was teaching a crowd, several men showed up with an ill friend who needed healing. These men had no appointment. They didn’t even wait until Jesus had finished, but barged right in with their paralyzed friend. Jesus not only stopped His lesson to heal the paralytic, but used that opportunity to teach those present yet another lesson.

Luke 8:22-24 – When He was sleeping, the disciples awoke Jesus because of a storm. Rather than simply roll over (He was in no danger!), Jesus rose and rebuked the waves and the wind for their sake.

Luke 8:43 – While on His way to heal the daughter of a man named Jairus, a woman with an issue of blood touched Jesus’ garment and received healing. The crowed pressed all around, and no one but Jesus and the woman realized what had happened. He could have continued walking toward His original goal, but Jesus stopped and singled out the woman to spend a moment of conversation with her.

Mark 10:46-52 – While walking with a huge crowd of people, an “unimportant” blind beggar named Bartimaeus began noisily shouting to Jesus. Some rebuked the beggar. Didn’t he realize Jesus had more important things to do? But Jesus stopped and called for the man. The beggar hurried forward and requested the gift of restored eyesight. Jesus did the miracle, and a joyful Bartimaeus joined His followers.

Yup! Some of Jesus’ most well-remembered miracles occurred during moments when He was basically busy with something else, but was interrupted. How do you respond when someone with a need interrupts you–in irritation, or with compassion and a heart to help? That interruption just might be a God-given opportunity to accomplish something bigger than the interrupter expects. Think about it!

 

Who Needs Me?

img_7857While reading a book of inspirational thoughts, I came across a section titled “Wants and Needs.” After drawing a distinction between what we humans want and what we need (particularly from God’s perfect perspective), the author explores the idea of relationships as they apply to needs:

“It isn’t always easy to accept that someone in our life is the exact person we need in our life to help us learn, grow, and develop into what God planned for us in the first place.”*

A few moments of thought persuaded me that this has proven true in my life in various ways… A college roommate with grating habits that taught me patience. A past coworker who (unwittingly) challenged me to upgrade my ability to overlook offenses and forgive as Christ forgave. Mature believers who modeled excellent qualities I didn’t yet have… You get the idea: God can and does use other humans to mold us into better people even when those “needed ones” don’t realize He’s using them.

But then I pondered further: If it’s true we need others to improve, conversely there must be people out there who need me (despite my shortcomings and the fact that I remain a work in progress). Who needs me? In what ways do they need me? And am I meeting their needs as God intends? Or am I so absorbed with my own problems and agenda that I’m failing those who need me?

A bit of reflection reveals a few way each of us could meet others’ needs:

  • I can smile. Is there someone who simply needs a tiny uplift?
  • I can listen. Is someone burdened with a weight they need to share, in person, or by phone, or by email?
  • I have knowledge. Does somebody need information I carry in my head?
  • I have abilities. Could someone be in need of my skills?
  • I can pray. Although I’m too limited to pray for all the world’s needs, God has put me in contact with specific people. Some have problems only God can solve. Am I being a friend and upholding them in prayer?

Of course, there are other ways to meet needs. Americans tend to throw money at problems (and sometimes that’s valid). But better solutions might involve donating time and self, in short, caring enough to be involved.

So, Lord, which people in my life need me, despite my imperfections? The closer the friend, the more likely You put here to help. Here am I. Send me.

it-is-well*It Is Well with My Soul, by Judi Robinson, copyright 2016, p. 57 (https://www.createspace.com/6510186)

Thankful? Are You Out of Your Mind?

manYears ago, I received a powerful lesson on thankfulness from a man whose name I don’t know. The man didn’t realize he taught me anything, because he doesn’t realize much of anything. Literally. Here’s the story:

One Sunday afternoon I was in a nursing home to participate in a short church service for residents. Because the elderly folk often forgot what day it was, let alone what time it was, we visitors roamed the hallways and invited people to the activity room. At the junction of two corridors I noticed a man who looked to be in his upper twenties sitting in an armchair. I assumed he was waiting for a grandparent. As I walked past, the man sat as if daydreaming.

“Hello!” I said.

He remained silent. This fellow gazed in the direction of a wall without focusing. After finding and inviting a few more senior citizens to the activity room, I asked one of the nurses about the man in the chair.

“Oh, that’s very sad. He has the body of an adult, but his brain never developed. He has the mind of a baby.”

So the “visitor” actually lived there, even though he was decades younger than other residents. I couldn’t help reflecting on the many things I’d done in life that man had never done—and never would. He hadn’t attended school. He hadn’t shared jokes. He’d never driven a car, read a book, gone swimming, carried on a conversation, fallen in love, gotten married, or done countless things I took for granted. Except for the grace of God, I could have been the mindless man languishing in that armchair, and he could have been the one looking at me with eyes full of pity!

Dear friend, this Thanksgiving you may question whether you have much for which to be thankful. Perhaps you wish you were richer, more attractive, more intelligent, more muscular, more successful, more _________ [fill in the blank]. But realize this: No matter what you do not have, apart from the grace of God you could be sitting in a nursing facility this very instant with the intelligence of a turnip. Rather than focus on everything you do not have, thank God if you can simply think. Not everyone can.